The Heart's Resilience


Gloria Bird

Morning sun skims through the cool, dry air
sears the sleepy eyes torn from the rim of dream
as spiders build their webs across our doorways, crickets
come in through the cracks of windowsill, and mice dance boldly
in the hallway predicting the coming of an early winter.
A field of chamisal in the foreground tempers
the impoverished memory of the desert's withholding hand
feeds my hungry spirit. The arroyo empty of rainwater wakes
alive with good luck lizards leaving their imprint in swirled
sand. Cactus plants guard the parameters of our existence, run
the fenceline. The pinnacles of earth formations rise eyelevel
in the distance, shift our senses.

I am returned here twenty years later with two young sons
not yet a part of the memory of my daughter's birth in this land,
whose presence we feel still as native wildflowers bloom freely
occupying each field of vision in variegated yellows
against the sienna earth, the color of their skins.
In the early morning, we sit on our verandah on freezing benches
facing the rising sun, the powdered air rough with pollens. At our backs
the western slope is streaked by dark rains and slow cloud shadows.
Somewhere on the edge of hearing a lonely puppy yelps to be let in.
Whiffs of burning trash trail in on the living wind.
I plant myself, a toughened yucca, to this miraculous land.
My sons, like shoots, lean into the morning sun to grow, blessed
with youth enough to take the path of the heart's resilience.

From The River of History, Trask House Press.

© 1998 Gloria Bird

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